Monday, June 18, 2012

Ethics opinion on using social media during trial.

The  New York City Bar Association issued a an ethics opinion about the use of  the social media sites of jurors. This is an important topic in this digital age for anyone trying cases.. 
Formal Opinion 2012-02

Friday, June 15, 2012

Interesting research

Reconstruing Intolerance
Abstract Thinking Reduces Conservatives’ Prejudice Against Nonnormative Groups

  1. John F. Dovidio
+Author Affiliations
  1. Yale University
  1. Jamie B. Luguri, Department of Psychology, Yale University, P. O. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520-8205 E-mail:


Myrdal (1944) described the “American dilemma” as the conflict between abstract national values (“liberty and justice for all”) and more concrete, everyday prejudices. We leveraged construal-level theory to empirically test Myrdal’s proposition that construal level (abstract vs. concrete) can influence prejudice. We measured individual differences in construal level (Study 1) and manipulated construal level (Studies 2 and 3); across these three studies, we found that adopting an abstract mind-set heightened conservatives’ tolerance for groups that are perceived as deviating from Judeo-Christian values (gay men, lesbians, Muslims, and atheists). Among participants who adopted a concrete mind-set, conservatives were less tolerant of these nonnormative groups than liberals were, but political orientation did not have a reliable effect on tolerance among participants who adopted an abstract mind-set. Attitudes toward racial out-groups and dominant groups (e.g., Whites, Christians) were unaffected by construal level. In Study 3, we found that the effect of abstract thinking on prejudice was mediated by an increase in concerns about fairness

Red Mind, Blue Mind: Are There Any Real Independents? - Association for Psychological Science

Red Mind, Blue Mind: Are There Any Real Independents? - Association for Psychological Science

Interesting Article

A Choice Mind-Set Increases the Acceptance and Maintenance of Wealth Inequality
Krishna Savani1 and Aneeta Rattan2
1Management Division, Columbia Business School, and 2Department of Psychology, Stanford University
Psychological Science
XX(X) 1–9
© The Author(s) 2012
Reprints and permission: DOI: 10.1177/0956797611434540

Wealth inequality has significant psychological, physiological, societal, and economic costs. In six experiments, we investigated how seemingly innocuous, culturally pervasive ideas can help maintain and further wealth inequality. Specifically, we tested whether the concept of choice, which is deeply valued in American society, leads Americans to act in ways that perpetuate wealth inequality. Thinking in terms of choice, we argue, activates the belief that life outcomes stem from personal agency, not societal factors, and thereby leads people to justify wealth inequality. The results showed that highlighting the concept of choice makes people less disturbed by facts about existing wealth inequality in the United States, more likely to underestimate the role of societal factors in individuals’ successes, less likely to support the redistribution of educational resources, and less likely to support raising taxes on the rich—even if doing so would help resolve a budget deficit crisis. These findings indicate that the culturally valued concept of choice contributes to the maintenance of wealth inequality. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Interesting Reseacrh

Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism


The authors test the hypothesis that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism. In Study 1, alcohol intoxication was measured among bar patrons; as blood alcohol level increased, so did political conservatism (controlling for sex, education, and political identification). In Study 2, participants under cognitive load reported more conservative attitudes than their no-load counterparts. In Study 3, time pressure increased participants’ endorsement of conservative terms. In Study 4, participants considering political terms in a cursory manner endorsed conservative terms more than those asked to cogitate; an indicator of effortful thought (recognition memory) partially mediated the relationship between processing effort and conservatism. Together these data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.
Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2012 Mar 16. 

Apparently, we were right after all. People who do not like to engage in deep effortful thought are more likely to be politically conservative. This may give us some information for jury selection Interesting research. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Emotional pain shares the same neurology as physical pain

The Neural Bases of Social Pain: Evidence for Shared Representations With Physical Pain
Experiences of social rejection or loss have been described as some of the most ‘‘painful’’ experiences that we, as humans, face and perhaps for good reason. Because of our prolonged period of immaturity, the social attachment system may have co-opted the pain system, borrowing the pain signal to prevent the detrimental consequences of social separation. This review summarizes a program of research that has explored the idea that experiences of physical pain and social pain rely on shared neural substrates. First, evidence showing that social pain activates pain-related neural regions is reviewed. Then, studies exploring some of the expected consequences of such a physical painYsocial pain overlap are summarized. These studies demonstrate that a) individuals who are more sensitive to one kind of pain are also more sensitive to the other and b) factors that increase or decrease one kind of pain alter the other in a similar manner. Finally, what these shared neural substrates mean for our understanding of socially painful experience is discussed. Key words: social pain, physical pain, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula, brain, fMRI.  Here is the link. 

Motivating people to give to a good cause

The Mechanics of Choice - Association for Psychological Science

The Mechanics of Choice - Association for Psychological Science

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Optimism Bias

Will jurors who suppress compassion be more closed minded about safety rule violations?

The Cost of Callousness

Regulating Compassion Influences the Moral Self-Concept
  1. C. Daryl Cameron and
  2. B. Keith Payne

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  1. C. Daryl Cameron, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Psychology, Davie Hall, Campus Box 3270, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270


It has often been argued that compassion is fundamental to morality. Yet people often suppress compassion for self-interested reasons. We provide evidence that suppressing compassion is not cost free, as it creates dissonance between a person’s moral identity and his or her moral principles. We instructed separate groups of participants to regulate their compassion, regulate their feelings of distress, or freely experience emotions toward compassion-inducing images. Participants then reported how central morality was to their identities and how much they believed that moral rules should always be followed. Participants who regulated compassion—but not those who regulated distress or experienced emotions—showed a dissonance-based trade-off. If they reported higher levels of moral identity, they had a greater belief that moral rules could be broken. If they maintained their belief that moral rules should always be followed, they sacrificed their moral identity. Regulating compassion thus has a cost of its own: It forces trade-offs within a person’s moral self-concept.
Psychological Science March 2012 vol. 23 no. 3 225-229

Just 60 Seconds of Combat Impairs Memory - Association for Psychological Science

Just 60 Seconds of Combat Impairs Memory - Association for Psychological Science

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Juror Bias Warrants New Trial After Defense Verdict In Medical Malpractice Case

In Fields v. Saunders the Oklahoma Supreme Court recenlty granted a new trial based on juror bias in a medical malpractice case that ended in a defense verdict. Fields  In the case, later in the day after the defense verdict was rendered one of jurors walked into a bar and made the following comments to an attorney not connected with the case: "(1) the plaintiffs would have never won the case with him (the juror) serving in the case, (2) he (the juror) was not impartial despite stating in voir dire he could be, and (3) he (the juror) wanted to "play the judicial system" and believed plaintiffs had the burden to prove the defendants intended harm beyond a reasonable doubt before they could recover."

Attitudes and biases like these are not uncommon among  jurors, based on my years of research on juror decision making. We have known that  some people called for jury service can never be convinced that to decide for patient and against a health care provider no matter what  evidence is presented and despite strong evidence of malpractice. The case is over with before it begins with such jurors. Moreover, like the juror in Fields, many jurors require a burden of proof far greater than what the law requires. Often no level of proof, no matter  how strong the evidence, is satisfactory with such jurors.

What is uncommon, nonetheless, is a case getting reversed based on juror bias. The courts should take notice that juror bias like this is much more the norm than the exception and be vigilant to eradicate such bias through thorough and thoughtful voir dire. In this case, the juror intentionally mislead the parties in voir dire. Most jurors are well meaning and are motivated to do the right thing. Many jurors though can unconsciously have the same level of bias as the juror in Fields, while not intentionally trying to be deceptive. These jurors, while well intentioned, are simply not consciously aware of the level of their bias or wrongly assume that they can hold their bias in check. See Ross, et. al. Naive Realism

The opinion worth reading! Fields

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Interesting article

Suspicious Minds: Exploring Neural Processes During Exposure to Deceptive Advertising

Adam W. Craig, 1
1Assistant Professor of Marketing, College of Business Administration, University of South Florida.

Yuliya Komarova Loureiro, 2
2Assistant Professor of Marketing, Fordham University.

Stacy Wood, 3
3Langdon Distinguished University Professor of Marketing, Poole College of Management, North Carolina State University.

Jennifer M.C. Vendemia4
4Director of the Center for Advanced Deception Detection and Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina.

When viewing advertisements, consumers must decide what to believe and what is meant to deceive. Accordingly, much behavioral research has explored strategies and outcomes of how consumers process persuasive messages that vary in perceived sincerity. New neuroimaging methods enable researchers to augment this knowledge by exploring the cognitive mechanisms underlying such processing. The current study collects neuroimaging data while participants are exposed to advertisements with differing levels of perceived message deceptiveness (believable, moderately deceptive, and highly deceptive). The functional magnetic resonance imaging data, combined with an additional behavioral study, offer evidence of two noteworthy results. First, confirming multistage frameworks of persuasion, the authors observe two distinct stages of brain activity: (1) precuneus activation at earlier stages and (2) superior temporal sulcus and temporal-parietal junction activation at later stages. Second, the authors observe disproportionately greater brain activity associated with claims that are moderately deceptive than those that are either believable or highly deceptive. These results provoke new thinking about what types of claims garner consumer attention and which consumers may be particularly vulnerable to deceptive advertising.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Upcoming CLE--- Latest Psychological Science in Jury Decision Making and Trial Advocacy


Program Information

Save $50 when you register before March 2!
Registration Fees:
AAJ Member Early Bird Fee: $645
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You can attend your first AAJ Education Seminar at 50% off, if you are an AAJ member & have been admitted to the bar for five years or less. (Does not apply if you have previously attended an AAJ Education seminar or college).   
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Friday, March 30, 2012
Registration (Continental Breakfast Available)
8:00 – 9:00 am  
Morning Session
9:00 am - 12:15 pm
Moderator Introductions and Welcome
The Science of Decision Making and Jury Bias Model 2™ • How psychological science can help us frame our cases
• The evolution of the Jury Bias Model 2
• Moral Psychology and its impact on jury decision making
• Using metaphor unconsciously to tell the trial story
The Jury Bias Model 2™ :  Identifying and Utilizing the Untried Issues
Identifying the Untried Issues • Preventing the untried issues from destroying your case
• Suspicion/mistrust
• Victimization
• Personal responsibility
Application of Suspicion/Mistrust, Victimization, and Personal  Responsibility
Lunch (on your own)
12:15 – 1:15 pm  
Afternoon Session
1:15 – 5:30 pm  
Stuff Happens or How Jurors Simplify Causation Anti-Plaintiff Bias
Using the Model in Trial Practice• Case Selection
• Discovery
• Trial Strategy
Using the Model in Settlement Negotiations and Mediation
Using the Model in Voir Dire
Using the Model in Opening
Using the Model in Direct and Cross
Using the Model in Closing
Networking Reception5:30 – 6:30 pm 
Saturday, March 31
Continental Breakfast
8:00 – 9:00 am  
Morning Session
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Moderator Introductions and Welcome
Understanding and Applying the Jury Bias Model 2™: The Science
Constructing Trial Story Using the Confirmation & Representativeness Biases
Analysis of the Trial Story:  Confirmation & Representativeness
Understanding Belief Perseverance, Using Availability, and the Norm Biases
Analysis of the Belief Perseverance, Availability, and Norm Biases
Using the Moral Psychology to Increase Blame
Staining the Character of the Defendant
Lunch (on your own)
12:00 – 1:00 pm  
Afternoon Session
1:00 – 4:15 pm  
Anchor and Frame Your Case
Integrating OJB Principles into Your Trial Practice• Discovery
• Mediation and Arbitration
• Trial

Sunday, February 26, 2012

John Bargh on the Unconscious

Implicit Juror Bias

(Re)Forming the Jury: Detection and Disinfection of Implicit Juror Bias

Anna Roberts

NYU School of Law

Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 44, 2012
NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-70

This Article investigates whether one of the most intractable problems in trial procedure can be ameliorated through the use of one of the most striking discoveries in social science. The intractable problem is selecting a fair jury. Current doctrine fails to address the fact that jurors harbor not only explicit, or conscious bias, but also implicit, or unconscious, bias. The discovery is the Implicit Association Test (“IAT”), an online test that aims to reveal implicit bias.

This Article conducts the first comparison of proposals that the IAT be used to address jury bias. They fall into two groups. The first group would use the IAT to “screen” potential jurors for implicit bias; the second group would use the IAT to educate jurors about implicit bias. These proposals merit deeper consideration. Implicit bias is pervasive, and affects crucial juror functions: evaluation of evidence, recall of facts, and judgments of guilt. Juries are generally told nothing about implicit bias. The judiciary has expressed concern about implicit juror bias, and sought help from the academy in addressing the problem.

I provide what the proposals lack: critique and context. I show that using the IAT to screen jurors is misguided. The educational project has merit, however, since implicit bias can be countered through knowledge of its existence and motivation to address it. To refine the project, I identify two vital issues that distinguish the proposals: when jurors should learn about implicit bias, and how they should learn.

On the issue of when, I argue that the education should begin while the jurors are still being oriented. Orientation is not only universal, but, as research into “priming” and “framing” has shown, a crucial period for the forming of first impressions. On the issue of how, I argue that those proposals that would include the jurors taking an IAT are superior to those that would simply instruct jurors on what the IAT shows. In an area fraught with denial, mere instruction would likely be dismissed as irrelevant. I use pedagogical theory to show that experiential learning about bias is more likely to be effective.

I bring when and how together, proposing a model that would include the use of the IAT as an experiential learning tool during orientation. It would harness the civic energy of jurors to an educational purpose, rather than letting it morph into boredom; by putting jurors in an active mindset, it would enhance their satisfaction with the process, and their ability to perform optimally. As for potential jurors who are never selected, their participation would honor the long-standing educational function of jury service.

Here is the link: Juror Bias

The Power of First Impressions

Rewired - Cognition in the Digital Age

Rewired - Association for Psychological Science

Monday, February 20, 2012

Priming during trial. What are the possiblities?

Don't you know that you want to trust me? Subliminal goal priming and persuasion

Jean-Baptiste Légal , Julien Chappé, Viviane Coiffard, Audrey Villard-Forest

University of Paris  Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France

We investigated the effect of goal priming on the processing of a persuasive message. Before reading a persuasive message about tap water consumption, participants were subliminally primed (or not) with the goal “to trust”. Subsequently, they completed a questionnaire about their perception of the message, the source of the message, and tap water consumption intentions. The results indicated that non-conscious activation of the goal “to trust” leads to a better evaluation of the message, increases behavioral intentions in accordance with the message, and positively influences the assessment of the source.

© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

J.-B. Légal et al. / Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48 (2012) 358–360

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eliciting empathy, is it important?

“I Help Because I Want to, Not Because You Tell Me to”: 

Empathy Increases Autonomously Motivated Helping


Empathetic arousal has been found to be a strong predictor of helping behavior. However, research has neglected the motivational mechanisms whereby empathetic concern elicits help giving. Three studies examined the extent to which autonomous and controlled motives for helping mediated the relationship between empathy and helping. Study 1 found that state empathy predicted willingness to offer time and money to help a person in need, with this relationship mediated by autonomous motivation for helping. Study 2 demonstrated that dispositional, empathetic concern predicted prosocial intentions and behavior via the mediation of autonomous motivation. Study 3 revealed that participants who focused on the emotions of another person in distress reported greater willingness to help than did participants who remained emotionally detached, with this effect mediated by autonomous motivation to help. Controlled motivation had no positive effects on helping in any of the studies. The results suggest that empathy encourages prosocial behavior by increasing autonomous motivation to help.

 2012 Feb 9